Pinguicula vulgaris (Butterwort)
|Also known as:
|part shade, sun; cold, wet cliffs and ledges, mossy bolders, rocky shores
|June - July
|1 to 6 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|GP: none MW: none NCNE: OBL
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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A single tubular flower at the end of slender, curved stalk. Petals are deep violet, the shape almost like a violet with 2 upper, rounded oval lobes and 3 lower, the fused tube base tapering to a long spur at the back. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch long including the spur. The open throat is lighter violet to white with stiff, glandular hairs on the lower lobes. Five deep purple to reddish brown, lance-like sepals, covered with fine hairs, clasp the top of the flower where it attaches to the stalk.
Leaves and stems:
3 to 6 light green to yellowish green leaves form a basal rosette, the blades oval to elliptic, ¾ to 2 inches long, the edges curled inward and the surface covered with sticky hairs that trap insects. Each plant can have 1 to 3 dark reddish purple flowering stems, 2 to 6 inches long, covered with sparse, fine hairs.
Butterwort is one of Minnesota's 15 carnivorous plants that capture insects for nourishment. While many butterwort species inhabit moist tropical habitats, P. vulgaris is a circumboreal species restricted to cold, rocky cliffs and boulders found at higher elevations, and along the northern stretches of Lake Superior's shoreline that get adequate moisture but are sheltered against excessive sunlight. It is also common in bogs and wet meadows into the high arctic. According to the DNR, it was listed as a Special Concern species in 1984 due to its limited available habitat, at risk from development and trampling from recreational activities along the North Shore. It is listed as Endangered in Wisconsin.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along the north shore of Lake Superior in Cook and Lake counties.
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